Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Review - Simply Thai, Punch Tavern

I don't know why I eat to match the weather when I refuse to dress for it. Someone pointed out to me that a student overdraft is exactly like a student loan but better. So I threw caution to the wind and decided to embrace it and make the most of my last few days in London. That has meant eating out lots. Although I haven't been eating out lots entirely by choice. Today I went ingredient shopping and found that I couldn't even buy the simplest of ingredients in the supermarkets since they're all 'local' or 'express.' I have come to learn that this means 'not well stocked.'

I've had designs on Daddy Donkey for the whole time I've been here. Sadly, I still haven't made it. Which is a shame because I do enjoy a good burrito. And apparently Daddy Donkey has better/cheaper burritos than Chilangos which is where I ended up going because it's so close to the office. Still, I have only myself to blame. The sun was shining and it was lovely weather to go to Leather Lane market and eat outside. Except before I got to Daddy Donkey's stall I was tempted by the wafts of 4 big woks of simmering curries. And since I've been crazy for Asian food recently, I didn't get any further than that. Thai red steak curry for £5. And pretty good too! I slathered mine in hot sauce although I probably didn't need to.
There was a brilliant kick of lemongrass and the whole thing tasted very vibrant and was perfect for a sunny day. The rice was not too sticky but still sticky enough too and I always appreciate well cooked rice.
The Punch Tavern, another place I've had plans to go to for lunch but didn't manage, I had more success with. The weather was horrid. It was that really limp English rain which doesn't quite justify an umbrella but still gets you really wet. Perfect weather for gravy! Despite the menu being full of options which would make you forget about the rain, I knew exactly what I wanted to eat before I even got there. Pie and mash (perhaps a hangover from Scotland?)
It was a steak and ale pie, a little too salty in my opinion but still tasty. You could really taste the ale (in a good way) and the sides (mash, carrots, mixed veg) were all well cooked and seasoned. The gravy was thick and rich and glossy and warm. I got major food envy again with my friend's order: cheeseburger and chips. The chips were MASSIVE. And I think the ketchup might have been homemade? The burger has displaced the Big Tasty from McDonalds in my mind as being the burger that would be the Burger in Plato's world of ideal forms (this is a topic I am ignorant on, please excuse me if I got that comparison very, very wrong.) So jealous. 
This was the £5 Punch classic this week as well so it was very good value. The atmosphere of the place is what sets it apart from other pubs though. It manages to be both chic and comfortable (red cushions!) yet appears to be the kind of place which has lots of regulars. The staff seemed to know a lot of the other patrons and they in turn seemed to know each other. And it's all so warm and friendly that you forget you're in the heart of the corporate hell.
[In the process of waiting for these photos to upload (crappy, crappy Internet) I popped down to Mugen to get a pre-dinner snack. Half price dumplings. They are so so so good. Beat the sushi and katsu hands down. Peppery pork with something crunchy and soft almost pasta-like pastry. I just want more!]

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